Vegas Day 2: Rock in Rio

May 20, 2015 § 1 Comment

rir hed

As I mentioned in my last post, our reason for visiting Las Vegas was to see Mariah Carey perform. But when J was booking our hotel, the rooms were unusually scarce and expensive; further research revealed that there was a music festival in town that same weekend: Rock in Rio.

We had never heard of it before, but after perusing the lineup, we figured that we might as well attend, so we bought VIP passes for Friday.

The festival didn’t start until 3 p.m., so we began our day with a bountiful breakfast at the Encore’s Society Cafe.

On all of the in-room TVs, you can watch the Wynn Resort channel, which is a loop of Steve Wynn taking you on a tour of all the hotel’s amenities and restaurants. He goes on and on about certain restaurants (such as his beloved Andrea’s, named for his second wife), but all Society gets is a throwaway line about its fish and chips :'( Poor Society…it’s not even a British restaurant!

Anyway, I like Society because unlike most other casino restaurants, it’s quite bright inside (and beautifully decorated of course). Plus the food is good!

society pancakes

The place was hopping for breakfast — we barely beat the line. I ordered the Huckleberry Soufflé Pancakes, which took an extra 10-15 minutes to cook and were these decadent two-inch-thick cakes that were dense and delicious. Oh myyy.

When you go to Vegas in May, you expect the weather to be at least slightly scorching. To my dismay, Friday’s temperatures didn’t even cross the 70-degree mark, so I wasn’t able to skank it up for my first-ever music festival. Sad. Instead, after breakfast, we headed over to the Fashion Show mall next door to buy me some warm clothes because I hadn’t brought any!

The mall is simply massive. It just keeps going on and on, an endless walk of typical mall stores. On our way to Lululemon, we walked by an empty runway with a live band rehearsing at one end. I stopped to take a picture, and so did three other Asians walking nearby LOL. It’s an Asian thing……..?!

fashion show

By the time we made our way back, the show had begun, and a whole extra room had materialized out of the ground, leaving the band stranded on its roof!

From within this mysterious room strutted a team of models and dancers. We were mystified. I wanted so badly for this random show to be part of the upcoming season of America’s Next Top Model, but I knew that they rarely (or never?) travel to domestic destinations outside of New York.

Fashion Show (the mall, not the event) had its phone number listed on signs scattered throughout its halls, inviting customers to text with any questions. So I did just that.

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Vegas Day 1: Filling Our Bellies

May 19, 2015 § 1 Comment

Less than two months after our March vacation to Las Vegas, J and I went back again! If it sounds like we’re gambling addicts, you’ll be surprised to find out that we didn’t spend a single minute gambling this time around. (Last time I think we clocked a mere hour at the blackjack tables.)

Back when news came out that Mariah Carey was slated to start performing in Las Vegas, J surprised me with tickets to go see her. Yes, even I thought it was excessive, but who can say no to another vacation and seeing MC singing her biggest hits? So back to the desert we went.

lake

On the flight there Thursday morning, I got a good look at what I presume is Lake Mead, in all its droughty, disappearing glory. And by glory I mean horror. I love going to Vegas, but not if I feel guilty every time I take a shower!

Neither of us had slept very well the night before, so we crashed when we got to the hotel and basically did nothing until dinner (vacation A+).

encore

We stayed at the Encore, and our room was near the end of the hallway so we could actually see the other side of the building — and its giant lettering — as it curved northward. Pretty cool!

kabuto

This unmarked storefront is our favorite restaurant in all of Vegas and hands down the best sushi place in the city. (I haven’t tried all of them, but I doubt any could be better.) Kabuto is located in a strip mall in the vast Chinatown (more accurately: Asiatown) area; the plaza looks unassuming but is actually home to some seriously good restaurants.

sashimi-

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Skin Laundry NYC Review

May 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

skin-laundry

I first read about Skin Laundry right before they opened in Flatiron; it was also right around the time I was lamenting the lack of high-tech skin solutions in the U.S. (or just New York?). It seemed like Asian countries have new treatments popping up all the time — Thermage, IPL, etc. — whereas Americans were content to stick with our drugstore brands while glomming on to Korean fads and occasionally getting high-end facials* if you’re rich.

Even if these new-age treatments are available in the States, I feel like they’re so rarely written about or treated as a regular part of the skincare regimen. It’s simply a different culture.

Anyway, I was mostly ready to jump on Skin Laundry’s wagon. The company, which started in LA, offers only one treatment: the signature 10-minute laser facial. In short, you get two doses of lasers to clean out your pores, then one dose of IPL (intense pulsed light) to even skin tone and stimulate collagen.

I was skeptical at first because every review I read about Skin Laundry sounded like effusive advertorial. The Yelp reviews for their other locations were marginally more helpful. The only semi-skeptical piece I could find about it was on LATimes.

Still, I went ahead and tried it, mostly because I managed to get my first treatment free when I RSVPed to their grand opening in March.

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Notes from Flying Virgin First Class

May 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

tickets

Some pre-notes notes:
-These pictures were taken on two separate trips, so there might be discrepancies in continuity.
-I had never before flown anything other than coach/economy, unless you count JetBlue’s Even More Space seats (I don’t). What an upgrade!
-Previously I was a Virgin virgin, so I have no idea what Virgin’s non-first-class experience is like.

Onward! But quickly and without crowding, because we got to board before everyone else.

1. Everything is just as fuchsia as promised.

interior

2. The captain came out to talk to us before takeoff! I don’t know if this is a regular occurrence on airplanes (I always assumed they greeted us from the cockpit), but this was the first time I’ve been able to see it happen from my own seat!

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Not The Mario Party I Remember

March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

mario party

I have very, very fond memories of playing Mario Party on Nintendo 64. It combined three of my favorite things: board games, video games and the Mario franchise! I don’t think I’ve owned any since Mario Party 3, but I’ve always tried playing them when I could, even the more recent Wii versions.

Needless to say, I was psyched about the the newest version, Mario Party 10; J preordered it so I could play it on release day. I hadn’t read any reviews, partly because all game-related websites are blocked at work (boohoo) and because I wanted to go into it with an open, unspoiled mind since I was planning to buy it regardless.

Well…I didn’t fall in love with the game. But let’s put good news first. My unexpected favorite thing about MP10 is its badminton game (found under Bonus Games). Why is it there? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem to be a minigame that you could play under normal party mode circumstances…it’s like they just happened to make it and stick it in randomly.

And it’s strangely good! I’ve never had the honor of playing a badminton video game (it’s a fringe sport in this industry I suppose), and I couldn’t get the controls quite right (Peach kept lunging and falling down), but it was fun and evocative of the actual sport. Well done.

That said, here are my least favorite things about Mario Party 10:

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Death In The Family

March 1, 2015 Comments Off on Death In The Family

My grandpa — 爷爷 — died this morning.

He was more than 90 years old, and his health had been declining for years. The most recent pictures I saw were of him lying in bed in some kind of hospice, curled up with his eyes tightly closed and a thin tube wrapped around his head going into his nose. He didn’t look comfortable.

My dad told me last month when he showed me the pictures that my grandpa was no longer able to eat or digest food, thus the feeding tube. 爷爷 wasn’t tall from what I remember, but he was still healthily hefty just a few years ago, but had wasted away to skin and bones.

He had dementia for the past number of years as well. He had started forgetting who we were even in 2008, the last time we went to China as a family. Grandma would admonish him to say hi to us. “Who?” he’d say. Dad would have to introduce himself. “It’s me; your son.” 爷爷 would smile and nod. “Ah, yes, good.”

I have a picture of him from when I visited Shenyang by myself in 2010, when he could still feed himself and get around slowly with his walker. “Sometimes grandpa remembers who I am … but usually not,” I wrote.

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Should You See Britney’s Vegas Show?

February 5, 2015 § 2 Comments

britney5

Yes, if:

1. You sometimes get a Britney Spears song stuck in your head and it actually makes your day better.
2. You’re willing to spend hundreds of dollars (or get someone to spend hundreds of dollars for you) to see your childhood/teenage idol dance to all her biggest hits.
3. You’re thrilled at the prospect of seeing other celebrities in the audience, such as J.Lo (yes, this actually happened to me):

The chick behind her is SO CASUAL HOW

The chick behind her is SO CASUAL HOW

4. You know all the words to “Perfume.”
5. You want to see Britney Spears swinging from a giant tree/prancing through a ring of fire.
6. You relish the thought of seeing your Twitter/Instagram post projected next to the stage where the Princess of Pop is going to perform:

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